Hera Aryubi is running to be UoN’s Students’ Union BME Officer for the 2020/21 academic year. Impact caught up with Hera to ask her a few questions.
Why do you want to be the BME Officer? What are your motivations?
Being able to pursue my educational ambitions in the UK is a privilege that my parents didn’t have and is something I’m grateful for. For that reason, my mum always encourages me to go as far as possible with my studies as education is the answer to everything. Many in the BME community have the same kind of academic motivations as me and I want to make sure that all of us fulfil these aspirations during our study at the University of Nottingham.
There is evidence from research that shows that there are differences in experiences at every stage of education system for students from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. These differences have been apparent for a long time and are well known but they still continue to exist. In order to advance equality of opportunity for all regardless of their ethnic background, it is important for our university to understand the reason behind these disparities more clearly so they can effectively target practices, activities and programmes so they can address these issues in the best way.
What, in your eyes, are the current problems?
We need to integrate the university more – this will be done by hosting various events like The International Week at University to promote intersectionality and diversity awareness which will create a more inclusive environment as a result.
We need to guarantee equal opportunities are available for all – making sure the university experience in all aspects is the same for everyone regardless of background.
Finally, ensure everybody, especially the BME community feel safe at university so it doesn’t negatively impact them or their studies during their time at the university.
“It is important for our university to understand the reason behind disparities… so they can effectively target practices, activities and programmes so they can address these issues in the best way.”
In your campaign, you have mentioned a capping against hate crime at the university. How will this be carried out? In what way will this aid BME students in the community?
One of the main causes of hate is prejudice. Therefore, a prevention strategy that will be put in place as your BME Officer will be to constantly strive to spread more knowledge and awareness about the different races, religions, sexual orientation and other grounds. This will be done through conducting workshops, hosting events that promote cohesion and general campaigning by protesting around campus as well.
Diversity awareness will also be incorporated into staff training.
However, for instances of hate crime that couldn’t be prevented, I will ensure student services provide quicker responses to students who have been victims of hate. This will benefit students of BME in particular if the cases of racism or discrimination are suspected but hard to prove.
Workshops and other welfare support will also be available for BME students that may have been the recipients of hate crime to help improve self-confidence and work on other issues they may be experiencing.
“We need to guarantee equal opportunities are available for all – making sure the university experience in all aspects is the same for everyone regardless of background.”
Despite positive action for minority groups, there is a growing sense of BME identity being under-represented in mainstream university life. University UK and National Union Schools announced that there is an attainment gap of 13% between white UK students and BME UK students. Since July 2017, the University of Nottingham have been operating a BME Attainment Gap Initiative, in which they have implemented measures to help address Nottingham specific issues. What are you proposing to do to further aid BME students at the university to achieve more?
Steps I suggest the university should undertake:
- Split BME students into their different ethnicities and consider how their ethnic background may intersect with other characteristics, such as low household income or coming from a low participation area.
- Adopt a wider provider approach to address disparities in BME students’ access, success and progression that are embedded at all levels of an institution (including senior management) and engage across all areas of the institution’s work. This will enable a joined-up approach to contribute to our university’s strategic priorities relating to BME student groups.
- Revise institutional structures and curriculum as the differences in attainment gap still exist despite controlling for other factors such as the student’s age, sex, course and qualifications on entry.
- Consider how they can better listen to and engage with the BME students, so that they can provide effective support and address any barriers facing them.
- Reassess how staff members at our university work flexibly and collaboratively with others at all levels across the institution to support BME students
- Work with external partners to build a shared infrastructure to support BME students
- In general, to get the university to evaluate the systems they already have in place and to develop and test new, impactful approaches to target students of different ethnicities.
Voting in the 2020 SU Election closes at 3pm on Monday 11th May.
Featured image courtesy of Nina Sasha.
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